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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Colin Walker: “Should replies be posts?”

September 4, 2017

Colin Walker, in a post on whether or not replies to other posts (or, comments) should be their own posts:

There has to be a line, a point where a comment is just that and not a reply. It’s a question of semantics but not everyone’s answer to “what is a comment and where does it belong?” will be the same.

I struggle with this a lot.

It is likely the point I should have made in my post regarding Micro.blog becoming a commenting service (and the fact that I don’t like that). I don’t want to reply on my blog to every reply to my posts on M.b because then I would have dozens and dozens of posts on my blog that would be very tough for readers to follow contextually. I believe the commenting mechanism that has been around for decades, even un-threaded, is far more useful than dozens of desperate posts stitched together loosely with a link that says “in reply to”.

Webmention attempts to bridge that gap between post and reply but that also is tough to follow along if the thread gets unwieldy.

However, I also don’t want to reply to every reply on my posts directly on M.b either (though, I do from time-to-time) as that isn’t much better than using any other silo like Twitter or Facebook. Should M.b go away, all of those conversations would be lost.

This isn’t a new issue nor is it exclusive to M.b. If I replied on my own blog to other people’s posts on their own blogs (like I am in this post to Colin Walker’s blog) then one side of the conversation could disappear at any time. I can only control my side of the equation. But at least if I have my own blog I have control of that one side.

I think it is good that these topics are being discussed again. The same debates have been swirling since blogging began, they swelled again when the indieweb movement began to take shape, and I think they are happening again as a result of M.b’s growing community. I do not believe there is one single answer to many them. You have to do what is right and sustainable for you.

For now, here are my personal rules for replying to posts. These will most definitely change over time.

  • If I want to say a quick “congrats” or “excellent post” or something of that nature I will leave a reply directly on their blog. If they do not have commenting turned on I will attempt to email. If they do not have email publicly available I’ll say nothing at all.
  • If I have something substantive to add to the conversation, or if I would like my “followers” to see the post I will quote the post on my blog with my additions to the conversation. Like this post.
  • If I simply want to direct people to the content I will use my new repost tag that I’ve been experimenting with. I’ve seen others use the “a post I liked” type post. That could work too.
  • If people reply using M.b, Twitter, or Facebook I will not reply on those services*. But I may reply on my own blog.
  • If I would like to keep my reply private I will attempt to email.

As an aside: I know some of you do not want to leave a public comment. I love getting reader emails. I get a fair number of them. And some of them have been excellent conversations. So please don’t hesitate.

* I no longer have a Twitter or Facebook account. I do have a M.b account but I’m beginning to wonder if I need one as I have my own fully functional weblog. If I didn’t and I wanted a microblog and didn’t want to use Twitter, I could see having an account. If I wanted a more fully featured blog I still believe WordPress is the best tool for that. Also, I’m sure as the M.b community grows it could mean that my content would be discovered by more people. I think M.b may end up being a thriving, well run, community and service. It is why I backed Manton’s efforts via Kickstarter. But, if I have my own blog, and if I really don’t care much about my content being discovered, then I see little reason to syndicate to it. For the time being I’m still going to as I want to see how the service matures.

Comments

This is an interesting conversation and has come at the right time for me. I have similar questions and concerns about POSSEing and maintaining context, including with Micro.blog. This, along with your post about not POSSEing, have cemented some decisions for me. I’ll write about it soon.

Colin says:

That’s great. I too am glad to see this continuing conversation.

This Article was mentioned on colinwalker.blog

Manton Reece says:

Good points, thanks for writing this up. I think eventually Micro.blog will look less like a silo, or at least not carry the usual negative connotations of a silo. The first step is just to encourage more people to have a blog.

Related to Micro.blog’s roll in the IndieWeb ecosystem… Have you looked at including the reply text on your site via Webmention? Currently when someone replies on Micro.blog to your post, there’s just a placeholder linking back to Micro.blog. If you showed the text, it wouldn’t feel like the conversation was happening somewhere else. (Colin’s blog post itself handles this really well.)

Colin says:

I believe M.b already is less like a silo than Twitter or Facebook. I have a draft of a post that calls M.b “the indieweb friendly Twitter”. I believe what you’re doing with domains is crucial and it appears as though the trajectory of the platform is definitely going in the right direction. What I’m likely experiencing at this point is growing pains… which is why I’m so keen to stick it out.

I almost wish M.b was only for people that _didn’t_ have blogs and left the syndication portion to an RSS/JSON Feed reader. But, again, I believe M.b’s true vision will show itself over more time.

I have the plan to revisit webmentions for my blog this coming week. I plan to spend enough time on it to get it working exactly as I’d like.

Here is what I’d like to do:

– Have webmentions (and also trackbacks and link backs) appear differently than comments.
– Have webmentions show context (some words before, and words after the link back to my site)
– If possible, have webmentions show the favicon of the site that sent the webmention
– For micro.blog webmentions, have the person’s username show up rather than Micro.blog

I believe some of these should work out-of-the-box and they don’t. I’m unsure why as I haven’t looked into it at all. I’m looking forward to figuring this out.

Keep plugging away on M.b Manton and thanks for listening to the community as you do.

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